Technology in LCMSD
Technology is an essential component of the educational program in our current distance learning model. While technology will not be the only resource for learning, students will be using their devices every day to connect with the teacher and class, as well as to complete assigned work.
LCMSD students in kindergarten, first and second grade use iPads as their technology tool. Students in third through eighth grade use Chromebooks.
It is important that each student have access to their own device during distance learning. We recommend that families borrow district devices, but families are able to use their own devices if they prefer.
Requesting a District Device
Complete this Request and Agreement Form (English)/(Spanish) if you would like your child to borrow a district device (iPad, Chromebook or mobile hotspot (only for students with no internet access)) for the 2020/21 school year. You will need to fill out this form separately for each of your children who need a device. You will be contacted with the time and location to pick up your device.
Please continue to read if you are unsure if you want to borrow a district device or use your own device.
To Borrow, or Not to Borrow
Students can use district-provided devices or personal devices during distance learning. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Before you run out and buy new technology, please review the information below.
The district tech department uses JAMF to manage the district-provided iPads. This means we can push apps and updates to district devices remotely. Also, in order to limit student exposure to inappropriate websites, we have replaced Safari with Kiddle on all district iPads. Kiddle is a highly filtered search engine for children. Also, we lock down the iPads so that apps cannot be downloaded.
- The advantages of using a district-provided iPad are that apps that students need will be preloaded onto the iPad, updates will happen automatically, and web browsing will be safer.
- The advantages of using your own iPad is that you can control all of the settings and apps and therefore be able to use it for other activities.
3-8 Grade Chromebooks
District-provided Chromebooks are part of the district Google domain and are managed through the Google Admin Panel. This allows us to provide the same filtered internet at home that is provided at school on district
Chromebooks. We use Cisco Umbrella to filter web content and Securly to extend that filter to district-managed Chromebooks, regardless of their location. Also, Google Extensions are controlled by the district and students cannot add extensions on their own. The district will be implementing a remote device monitoring system called Hapara for all 3-8 grade teachers. Hapara will allow teachers to freeze all student screens, monitor the active tab of students, message students individually, limit what websites can be accessed during class, and generate an activity report for the class. This will help teachers monitor student engagement and limit off-task activity during class. Using Hapara will require that all students are signed into their Google account in Chrome.
- The advantages of using a district-provided Chromebook are that web content is filtered, extensions are locked down, and student web activity during class will be limited to the settings of the classroom teacher.
- The advantages of using your own Chromebook are that you can add extensions and control the device settings locally. You can also choose to purchase a Chromebook with additional features, like a larger screen or touchscreen. Hapara will work the same on a personal Chromebook. You can opt to add your Chromebook to our district domain so that it is managed the same way as district devices. This will limit your ability to change settings and/or add extensions. Please contact LCMSD tech support at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to add your personal Chromebook to the district domain.
3-8 Grade Macs and PC’s
Students in 3-8 grade can also use a family’s personal Macbook or PC laptop to access distance learning. When choosing this option, remember that students must use Chrome to access their classroom resources, otherwise Hapara will not work. Please note that Hapara only monitors activity in Chrome, so if students on Macbooks and PC’s open a different browser they will be outside the monitoring of the teacher during class.
Mobile Hotspots K-8 Grade
The district has a limited number of mobile hotspots that can be loaned out to families. These are intended for families who do not have internet access at home. They are not intended to "supplement" a family's internet access or provide internet during travel. After we allocate hotspots to families who lack internet access, we will make the extra devices available for families who are having bandwidth challenges during distance learning. Please only request a mobile hotspot if you do not have internet access at home.
Currently Loaned Devices
You do not need to request a device if you already have a district-provided Chromebook from last year. Students who borrowed a district Chromebook can continue to use it when school starts in the fall.
All iPads that were loaned out last school year must be returned before the start of school. We need to enroll these devices into our management system. Please email the tech department at email@example.com to arrange a time to drop it off. We can then loan you a new iPad.
Any questions about district devices should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purchasing a Chromebook for your Child - Some Suggestions
If you decide you want to purchase your own Chromebook for your 3-8 grade student, here are some recommendations from the LCMSD Tech Team.
The range of Chromebooks available is pretty staggering and getting more expensive every year. Each company puts out a new version pretty frequently, so it is hard to get long term data on reliability. They don't have the same lifespan as Macbooks or PC laptops, so they are a bit of a moving target. We recommend sticking with well-known name brands like Dell, HP or Acer. We have used Toshiba, Samsung and ASUS, and have had mixed experiences with each. We just purchased a new round of Chromebooks and went with Dell based on the recommendations of other districts. You don't need fancy features like touchscreen. The device is simply a Google Suite portal, so it is less complicated than a real computer. Storage is not an important feature - students will be saving their work in the cloud. If you are on a budget, I would start with determining what screen size you want. A larger screen is easier to use but will cost more. We have a combination of 11" and 13" screens and our students definitely prefer the 13" screens; but we no longer purchase those because it is cost prohibitive. For more user feedback, Amazon reviews can be surprisingly helpful.
-Daniel Norbutas, Director of Educational Services and Technology and the LCMSD Tech Team